Metrolinx reaches a conclusion

After considering many options, Metrolinx has reached an obvious conclusion: future GO trains will not run on unproven or science-fiction technology.

GO has been studying alternative train systems since early this year as part appraising the potential for electrifying the train system. Right now, GO trains use diesel locomotives, but GO considered converting to mag-lev, biodiesel, natural gas, and hybrid technologies. After months of study, these options have now been rejected.

According to Steve Munro, a transit expert, this exercise has not been an merely expensive waste of time; he says

Some have remarked that we have paid quite a lot of money and taken a lot of time to reach the obvious conclusion.  Sadly, they are correct, but I must challenge the sense that the process is worthless.  GO/Metrolinx is learning a lot about rail technology and the implications of technology choices.  Things that may be “obvious” to advocates sometimes take time to seep into the official world view, and a well-documented study puts to rest many of the diversions and erroneous assumptions that have clouded debates on future GO operations and technologies.

Four options now remain:

  1. Diesel Locomotives – Bi‐Level
  2. Electric Locomotives – Bi‐Level
  3. Electric Multiple Units – Bi‐Level
  4. Dual‐Mode Locomotives – Bi‐Level

Diesel locomotives are the trains Torontonians are familiar with: a powerful engine pulls light carriages. Electric locomotives would be similar: a powerful, but electric, engine would pull light carriages. Electric Multiple Unit trains are similar to subway cars. There is no single-car engine in front of the train. Instead, the engine components are spread underneath the passenger components. Dual-mode locomotives are engine-pulled trains that can switch between electric and diesel power.

Both the EMU and Dual-mode options seem like dark horses.  Locomotive-pulled trains would be able to use the current passenger cars for the remainder of their useful lives, but the Electrical Multiple Unit option would mean replacing the entire fleet. Currently, there are very few dual-mode locomotives available, and they are expensive and unproven.

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.